by Robin Gutterman
Do you remember Jimmy Durante? He was a comedian that started in Vaudeville, worked his way into nightclubs, radio and TV, and eventually into the heart of the nation. He put his heart and soul into every performance, but at the very end of every show, beginning in the 40s, his tone became somber as he slowly walked through successive, diminishing spotlights, then turning to the audience, he would deliver what became his signature sign-off, “Goodnight, Mrs. Calabash — wherever you are!” While there are various people identified as the mysterious Mrs. Calabash, the most convincing argument is that Mrs. Calabash was his wife. Apparently, Mrs. Calabash was his affectionate nickname for his wife, and it was after her death in 1943 that be began saying “Goodnight, Mrs. Calabash – wherever you are!”
Now, while I cannot even begin to compare the loss of a spouse with the closing of a Web site, shutting down MyOwnBookshop.com brought to mind the same kind of feeling of sadness and loss as when Jimmy Durante turned and headed into the first spotlight, then into the next smaller spotlight, and so on, and all the while the background lights were dimming, until there was nothing left to see and even the smallest spotlight faded to nothing.
None of us wanted to dim the lights and add MyOwnBookshop.com to an ever-growing list of defunct Web sites for used and rare booksellers. We fought a good fight, the best we could give, to keep it operational. When the stock market fell after 9/11 and we lost our second round of financing, it became a real challenge to keep the site going while trying to manage operating and development costs. All of us wish we could have found a magic solution that would have kept us afloat long enough to become a successful operation and beyond. The struggle to keep the site going was long and took its toll; it was time to dim the lights and say Good Night.
The notice that MyOwnBookshop.com was closing went out to participating booksellers the end of August thanking all those wonderful dealers who supported us through thick and thin.
In the aftermath of the closing of MyOwnBookshop.com, the parent company TitlesDirect.com, Inc. has become a more focused company, with its single focus being software for booksellers. We will continue to lend whatever support we can to the existing smaller sites, which we believe are the future for used and rare booksellers.
Robin Gutterman and Andrew Gutterman are co-owners of The Avocado Pit book shop in Charlottesville VA and market BookTrakker software at www.booktrakker.com
Copyright Ó 2004 Robin Gutterman